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"Joey" Hardman, August 22, 1994

Joey Hardman and Mae Polakoff

'Joey' Hardman and Mae Polakoff in the 1970s.

by Marc Stein. Copyright © Marc Stein 2009. All rights reserved.

Introduction

I interviewed "Joey" Hardman (and her partner Frances) in August 1994 in their Northeast Philadelphia home. "Joey" was Hardman's nickname. I was interested in interviewing her because she was one of Philadelphia's first homophile activists and she had been the long-time partner of Mae Polakoff, who was the first president of the Mattachine Society of Philadelphia. Joan Fleischmann, who used the name Joan "Fraser" in the homophile movement, provided me with contact information for Hardman.

Hardman provided me with the following biographical information: 

Date of Birth: 15 July 1918

Place of Birth: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Place of Mother's Birth: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Mother's Occupation: Housewife

Place of Father's Birth: Philadelphia

Father's Occupation: Factory Worker

Race/Ethnicity: German American and Irish American

Religious Background: Catholic

Class Background: Working Class

As is evident in the transcript below, Hardman was experiencing memory and language difficulties that I assume were age-related. At some point after our interview, "Joey" wrote to me to say that Frances had recently died. I later learned that "Joey" died on 27 April 2002.

Interview Transcript

Marc Stein interview with "Joey" Hardman (and Frances), 22 August 1994. Transcribed by Lisa Williams and Marc Stein

MS: I thought I would start by asking you to say a little bit about your family, your early years, what it was like growing up the way you did.

JH: I gave my sister the what do you call it? The uh...

F: Diary?

JH: ...diary. We're gonna' have a lot of that.

Philadelphia Girls' High

Philadelphia High School for Girls (Girls' High), July 31, 1933. Photo: City of Philadelphia, Department of Records.

MS: You had a diary? Is that right?

F: No. Her father had a diary.

MS: Oh, I see.

JH: Well my father had it, yeah. But he gave it to me.

MS: So you were born in 1918?

JH: Yeah.

MS: And what kind of childhood do you remember? Was it a happy childhood?

JH: Oh yeah. In those days everybody was happy.

MS: Was it a big family?

JH: Yeah.

MS: How many kids?

JH: Not a big, big family. Four.

MS: Four children? And where did you fall?

JH: Well my mother actually had ten children and six of them died.

MS: Where did you fall in the four who lived? Were you the oldest or the youngest?

JH: I'm the next from the oldest, but he's passed away.

MS: I see.

JH: All have except for my sister. My sister's the only one.

F: Tell him how Charlie passed away. He'd want to know that.

JH: Yeah, I know.

F: And tell him when you had the kids and you went out to get things to eat, how you used to take them around.

JH: Oh that's way before.

F: Well this is what he wants to know.

MS: Just tell me a little bit about your childhood years.

JH: O.K.

F: I think that it was very heart-rendering. I mean for her to have to take care of the kids, put them in a wagon. Go ahead.

JH: Didn't have room in the wagon. We had to have room for the…

F: Food.

JH: ...food and stuff. We'd go down along South Street and stop at each stand. They got to know us after awhile, but at first it was hard. And we'd stop at each stand and they'd say, "Oh yeah, here we got these things for you. You can take this with you." And I'd put it in the wagon and take it home to eat.

MS: And you were doing that with your brothers and sisters?

JH: Yeah. Well just my one brother and sister. My older brother was, what was he in? Not in the circus, but yeah.

MS: And was this because there wasn't food at home?

JH: Yeah.

MS: You said your mother was a housewife.

JH: Yes.

MS: And your father worked sometimes?

JH: Yes. Well he often had a job, but he didn't keep it.

F: These were depression days, you know.

MS: Right.

F: That what she's talking about.

MS: So your family was pretty poor, it sounds like.

JH: Yes. Very poor.

MS: And what neighborhood were you living in?

JH: South Philadelphia.

MS: And you said your family was Irish and German in background. Was it a kind of Irish/German neighborhood? Or was it an Italian neighborhood?

JH: No it was…

MS: Mixed?

JH: Mixed, yeah.

MS: Yeah? And your father worked at a factory, you said, right?

JH: Well he worked for the [?].

MS: For awhile, it sounds like? And did the six children die in childbirth or when they were children?

JH: Some did and some didn't. I mean I wasn't told all about everything. You know what I mean?

MS: I see.

JH: They thought that kids don't have to hear that stuff.

MS: Right, right. But you said it was happy in spite of the poverty?

JH: Oh yeah! Oh yes, yes, definitely.

MS: What are some of your fond memories?

JH: Well let's see. I'm wasting your tape.

MS: No.

F: Sneaking out and going out at night.

MS: Did you play with a lot of kids in the neighborhood?

JH: Oh yeah.

MS: And did you play with your brothers and sisters too?

JH: Oh yeah. All of them.

MS: They're close in age?

JH: Well not too close. My sister's seven years younger than I am and my younger brother was two years older than her. So seven years and nine.

MS: Did you get on well with your mother and father?

JH: Oh yeah.

MS: They were good parents?

JH: In fact, half the time I wasn't home.

MS: Really?

JH: I got along real good.

MS: Because they gave you a lot of freedom?

JH: Yeah, they did. They really did. They didn't want me to have it, but they gave it to me.

MS: What kind of kid were you? Were you a troublemaker?

JH: No. Never was.

MS: Well-behaved?

JH: Yeah, I was well-behaved. A little too well-behaved sometimes.

MS: Did the family go to church on Sunday?

JH: Yeah.

MS: And were you going to regular public school or Catholic school?

JH: Well I went to Catholic school for six years. And then my mother couldn't afford the different things that they had. They didn't have tuition at that time.

F: No.

JH: But they had...

F: Envelopes.

MS: You maybe had to buy equipment, buy the books and buy stuff like that?

JH: Yeah, right, like that.

MS: So what was the Catholic school that you went to? Do you remember the name?

JH: St. Gabriel's.

MS: St. Gabriel's. And what was the public school that you went to after that?

F: I went to the same one but I forgot the name.

MS: What about high school? What was the high school that you went to?

JH: I went to Girls' High.

MS: Girls' High?

JH: And then I went to William Penn after that.

MS: High school.

JH: Yeah.

JH: 'Cause I got kicked out of Girls' High.

MS: You did? Why did you get kicked out of Girls' High?

F: 'Cause she went after the girls.

JH: Shut up. That's not why.

MS: Why did you get kicked out of Girls' High?

JH: Well I didn't get like....

F: Passing grades?

JH: No. I got good grades. But I'm trying to think of what the reason was. You can shut it off if you want to while I'm thinking.

MS: No that's all right. That's all right.

F: You were a bad kid. You were a bad kid.

JH: No I wasn't. No I wasn't.

MS: Well we're going back to the early stuff. I'm sure you'll remember more when we get to when you were an adult. But do you remember, when you were a teenager or when you were even younger, having feelings towards other girls?

JH: Oh yeah.

MS: How early?

JH: I knew that from the beginning.

MS: Can you tell me about that?

JH: Oh yeah, yeah. I can't think of what there is to tell.

MS: Would you have crushes on girls?

JH: Yeah.

MS: Do you remember any of them in particular?

JH: Frances Nayan.

MS: Was she in your class?

JH: No, no. She was my friend, my girlfriend, for a long time.

MS: And did the two of you play around?

JH: Yeah. Yeah we did.

MS: Was it physical as well?

JH: Yeah.

MS: And was it with other girls, too, or was she something special?

JH: Something special. Right then it was something special.

MS: Do you remember how old you were when that happened?

JH: Ten I guess.

MS: You remember how it happened? Were you just playing around one day?

JH: Yeah.

MS: And did she make the first move or did you?

JH: I did.

MS: You did? And was she a tomboy or were you a tomboy?

JH: I was.

MS: What did that mean? You played with the boys a lot?

JH: Yeah, I played mostly baseball and softball and everything like that with the boys.

MS: Did you ever get called names because of that? Anything like that?

JH: Oh yeah.

MS: Yeah? What would they call you?

JH: Mostly that: "tomboy."

MS: Did your parents mind or did they not care?

JH: No, they knew I was.

MS: They knew you were a tomboy and they didn't care?

JH: They didn't care.

MS: And what about your brothers?

JH: I don't mean they didn't care per se. They let it go.

MS: And how about your brothers and sisters? Did they ever say anything to you about it?

JH: Oh yeah. They always used to kid me, "When the hell you going to get married?"

MS: Yeah?

JH: Stuff like that.

MS: But that must have come later.

JH: Later, yeah, yeah.

MS: So there was Fran? Is that what you said her name was? Frances?

JH: Yeah. Frances Nayan. In fact, she's a big doctor now.

MS: Were there any other girls who you were girlfriends with when you were a teenager?

JH: I had a lot of friends. I did have a lot of friends. I had friends all through my lifetime. I mean there wasn't anything else but friends.

MS: And do you remember what you thought when you were a teenager about your feelings about other girls? Did you think they were unusual or different? Did it bother you at all?

JH: No.

MS: Were you comfortable with it?

JH: No, it didn't bother me. It didn't bother me at all. The more the merrier.

MS: That's how you felt?

JH: That's how I felt, yeah.

F: Good time Charlie.

JH: Yeah.

Leeds and Northrup Factory, 1929

Leeds and Northrup Factory, 1929. Photo: Library Company of Philadelphia Print Department Aero Service.

MS: So did you have any names to call yourself in those days? Did you call yourself homosexual or lesbian?

JH: No, no.

MS: Nothing like that?

JH: Isn't that funny?

MS: What would have been the word, do you think?

JH: I'm trying to think. I can't think.

MS: O.K. Maybe it'll come back to you. So what about your first relationship?

JH: Well my first relationship was...

F: Sad.

JH: …Hoodie.

MS: What was her name?

JH: Edna Hood. They called her Hoodie.

MS: And when did that start? How old were you then?

JH: Let's see.

MS: You were still living at home?

JH: No, no.

F: She moved in with her.

MS: Right.

F: And her mother.

MS: So you were in your twenties, do you think?

JH: Yeah, oh yeah.

MS: About 20?

JH: Around there.

MS: So this would have been maybe the late 1930s? Something around there?

JH: Yeah.

MS: And how did you meet her?

JH: Now let me think. Oh, at a store.

MS: And you just became friends?

JH: What was it called? The Greeks.

MS: The Greeks?

JH: The Greeks, yeah.

MS: What kind of store was it?

JH: A candy store. And they had other stuff there too, I guess.

MS: And you just started talking?

JH: Yeah. Well I was introduced. A friend of hers introduced me to her.

MS: I see. And so then you became friends?

JH: Then we became friends. But she wasn't tied up with her like that. I mean she was just a good friend. I mean she was a good friend of Hoodie's.

MS: Right.

JH: So she introduced me to her. And we got together.

MS: Did you immediately become sexually involved?

JH: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

MS: Pretty much from the start?

JH: Yup.

MS: And did she make the first moves or did you?

JH: No I did.

MS: You did? And that was the first time, as an adult, it sounds like? Or had there been other things before?

JH: No, I went with this other girl for awhile before Hoodie.

MS: I see. But this was more serious.

JH: Yeah.

MS: Because you moved in together and everything?

JH: Yeah.

MS: And was it around then that you started discovering bars or any other kind of places to hang out in with other lesbians?

JH: Oh yeah. In fact we had already had the monopoly on the drugstores. Half of them around Girls' High.

MS: Really?

JH: Yeah.

MS: Now where was Girls' High located?

JH: 17th and Spring Garden.

MS: And you mean there were drugstores around there where a lot of...?

JH: Oh yeah.

MS: Yeah?

MS: Do you remember some of the drugstore names?

JH: No, but I know about where they were.

MS: In that neighborhood?

JH: They were located at like 18th and Spring Garden and down that way.

MS: And how did everybody know to go there?

JH: You just knew.

MS: And was it boys and girls or just girls?

JH: Not boys.

MS: Just girls?

JH: Yeah.

MS: And so was there a lot of playing around among the girls?

JH: Well I didn't really ask them what they did after they went home, but yeah, seemed to be. Seemed to be a lot.

MS: So would you say it was a kind of lesbian hangout or gathering place? Or was it more just girls and some of the girls…?

JH: I don't think the kids knew it themselves, if you know what I mean.

MS: Right.

JH: But that's where they were going.

F: For a coke.

JH: Yeah, for a coke. And a look at somebody and a look at this one and a look at that one.

MS: But straight girls and gay girls both, do you think?

JH: I think at one time, yeah. But then after awhile we all got together.

MS: It got to be mostly gay girls?

JH: Yeah.

MS: And were there other kinds of places that you would go to?

JH: Yeah. Over to Jersey. Over to Topper's.

MS: What was Topper's?

JH: That was where you bought drinks.

MS: Oh, like a bar?

JH: Yeah, a bar.

MS: Was it in Camden?

JH: I think it was. I'm not sure, but I think it was. Do you remember Topper's? Where was it?

F: I'm trying to think. I guess it would still be called Camden.

MS: And was it a lesbian bar?

JH: Yeah.

MS: No gay men?

JH: No, no. I didn't see any. I mean I never noticed any around there.

F: No.

MS: And were there any other lesbian bars back in those days?

JH: Yeah, yeah. There was quite a few of them.

MS: Yeah? Can you think of some of the names and where they were? I'm talking about the '30s and the '40s.

JH: Yeah.

MS: Any in Center City?

JH: I'm trying to think. Oh yeah, there was the Bridge Tavern.

MS: The Bridge Tavern?

JH: Yeah.

MS: Where was the Bridge Tavern?

JH: 3rd and Race.

MS: And that was again just lesbians?

JH: No, that was mixed.

F: No.

MS: Mixed gay and lesbian?

JH: Yeah.

MS: And do you remember any of the others in Center City? Were there any around 13th Street and Locust?

JH: Yeah, 13th and...

F: Locust.

JH: …Locust, yeah.

MS: What was that one called?

JH: What was that called?

F: I've been trying to think of it for three days now.

JH: Yeah, you said it.

MS: Some people have mentioned the Variety Room?

JH: Oh yeah, Variety Room. Well that was there too.

F: Yeah.

MS: That was there back then?

JH: But that wasn't the name of it.

F: No.

MS: There was Rusty's later on.

JH: Yeah, Rusty's, yeah.

F: Yeah.

MS: Do you remember when Rusty's started?

JH: Oh yeah.

MS: Would that be in the '50s or earlier?

JH: Well it started earlier and then I think they moved to another....

F: Who?

MS and JH: Rusty's.

F: Oh she moved.

MS: Was there a place called the Surf bar?

JH: The Surf.

F: The Surf, yeah.

MS: Where was that?

JH: That was at Locust and 13th.

F: Oh that was a wild place. 13th? Yeah, also all around that area, 13th and Spruce.

MS: Was that also lesbians and gay men?

JH: Yeah, yes. Both.

MS: Did lesbians and gay men get on together in the bars pretty well?

JH: Oh yeah.

F: Yeah.

MS: A lot of friendships?

JH and F: Oh yeah.

MS: Did you have friends who were gay men back then?

JH: Oh I used to have a lot of them.

MS: Yeah.

F: Me too.

JH: Not to go to bed with.

F: No.

WAC recruitment poster

Women's Army Corps Recruitment poster.

MS: So tell me about the war. You said you were in the service?

JH: Yeah.

MS: What did you join up with?

JH: WACs.

MS: And what made you do that?

JH: I wanted to. That's all. There was no other reason. I figured get in and go.

MS: Was it that you wanted to serve the country?

JH: Yes.

MS: Or was it that you wanted to prove something as a woman?

JH: No.

MS: No? Serve the country?

JH: Serve the country. I never did anything wrong when I was in the service.

MS: Really?

JH: That's right.

MS: You mean sexually?

JH: Yeah.

MS: How long were you in the service? The whole war?

JH: Off the post, I did. But not….

MS: I see. Where were you based?

JH: First place was Aberdeen. And then I went up to the [?] Gap. And then where else did I go?

MS: But you said you kept up with the life off the base?

JH: Oh yeah. Definitely.

MS: You would go to bars and have relationships?

JH: Yeah.

MS: Did anyone ever find out in the military?

JH: No.

MS: Were there ever any investigations?

JH: They never asked you.

F: No. In those days they didn't have them.

JH: Yeah, in those days they didn't even ask you.

MS: Yeah. So you weren't asked when you joined up anything about homosexuality?

JH: Oh I wasn't asked? Is that what you said?

MS: Yeah.

JH: No.

MS: I've heard that during World War Two there were some witch hunts, especially against women in the service. But you weren't aware of anything like that?

JH: No.

MS: And were there ever any raids on the bars when you were in the service that you remember?

JH: Oh yeah.

MS: Yeah?

F: Rizzo.

JH: Yeah, Rizzo was always in there.

MS: Yeah? Do you remember any of the raids specifically?

F: Oh god yeah.

MS: Now that must have been later. That must have been after the war because he wasn't....

JH: This was before.

F: That was after the war, yeah.

MS: Yeah?

F: Rizzo used to pack 'em in the paddywagons from the bars at 13th and Locust. All you had to do is stand there and watch.

MS: So what were some of the bars after the war in Philly in the late '40s and the '50s? Were some of those other earlier bars still around? Rusty's I know was around. And the Surf.

JH: Yeah there were some around, but I can't think of where they were.

MS: And was butch/fem really a big part of the bar scene?

JH: Yeah.

MS: And I'm guessing from what you said before that you were butch? Is that right?

JH: Yes.

MS: Now what did that mean?

JH: Oh now it don't mean anything.

MS: But back then?

JH: Back then it did.

MS: How did it work? Did you wear different clothes?

JH: Yeah, I wore different clothes.

MS: What kind of clothes would you wear?

JH: Slacks and shirts and whatever. Fell right into the service with the dress code.

MS: Right, right.

JH: I could run around in pants and nobody would say anything.

MS: And women weren't really wearing pants, right?

JH: No. That's what I mean. No.

MS: Do you have a favorite outfit that you used to wear to the bars in the '50s?

JH: Yeah, my fatigues.

MS: Your fatigues? So after the service, you would go dressed in your fatigues?

JH: Yeah.

MS: And a lot of women liked that?

JH: Yeah. Oh yes.

MS: And what would the fems wear?

JH: Regular outfits.

MS: What kind of outfits?

JH: Well whatever they felt like wearing.

MS: Was that dresses or skirts?

JH: Yeah.

F: Skirts and blouses.

JH: Skirts and blouses, I guess. Yeah.

F: Mostly skirts and blouses up until a certain time.

MS: Right.

F: They didn't wear the dresses that were up here.

MS: Right.

JH: Yeah.

F: If you wore dresses, you wore them down here. That was the style.

MS: Right.

F: So they'd wear skirts and blouses.

JH: They're doing that again.

F: Yeah.

MS: So what happened with Edna? You were saying about your girlfriend Edna that that had a sad ending?

JH: Yeah.

MS: What happened?

JH: Well, when I was in the service, I was still supposedly her friend, right? So while I was in the service, she became friendly with this man, this younger fellow. Not younger than me, but younger. And he started taking her out.

F: And you surprised her one weekend when you came home. She surprised her one weekend and didn't tell her she was coming home. And she found the two of them.

JH: When I came home, they were on the porch kissing.

MS: Oh really?

JH: Yeah.

MS: So that must have been devastating. Yeah?

JH: Yes it was.

MS: And did you say anything right then and there or did she?

JH: Oh yeah.

MS: What did you say? Do you remember?

JH: Not really. But I do remember saying, "I want you out of this house. Out of the house. I don't want you."

MS: And how long had you been together? For a few years?

JH: Oh yeah. We lived together three years, I guess it was.

MS: Do you think that was related to the fact that she was a fem? Do you think that happened more often with fems?

JH: No. It had something to do with, now how do I say it? I guess she was going to try to live her own life, if you know what I mean. Because she wasn't too....

F: Set on gay life.

JH: No, right. And I guess when she met this guy….

MS: She wanted to try it out.

JH: Yeah, right. Right.

MS: And she ended up going that way?

JH: And then she had a run-in with this doctor of some sort. Some sort of doctor. I don't know really because I read the article and all, but it didn't phase me. I didn't contain it. But he wanted to show her, this doctor, not the other fellow.

MS: Right.

JH: He wanted to show her, I don't know if you'd say, how you'd go about not having a baby or what. But she got all mixed up in that stuff.

MS: You mean birth control?

JH: Yeah, birth control. Yeah. I guess, I guess it's birth control.

F: Yeah.

MS: But do you mean how to have sex? Was he showing her sexual things?

JH: Yeah.

MS: The doctor?

JH: Right, right. And of course she was so interested that she didn't even know where she was going. You know what I mean? I don't mean she didn't know where she was going. She didn't know what she was going into.

MS: I see. What kind of doctor? Was it a psychiatrist?

JH: No I think he was more like a....

MS: General doctor?

JH: Maybe.

F: Psychologist?

JH: No.

MS: So she left the house?

JH: Yeah, oh yeah.

MS: And you left there soon?

JH: Yeah.

MS: Now you had been faithful to her when you were in the service?

JH: Oh yeah.

MS: Yeah?

JH: Sure.

MS: And did you ever get any comments from anybody on the street or when you were in your fatigues or in your uniform? Any kind of antigay comments?

JH: No, never did. See I guess they believed in those days that you were helping do something good for the service and that was it.

MS: That was the important thing.

F: And she didn't look butch at all. She wore her hair...

JH: Who?

F: You. Longer hair.

JH: I'll show you my picture, O.K.?

F: She wore her hair like that.

MS: So there's the photo?

JH: It may be a bit dusty. Is it?

MS: A little bit. That's very smart. So yeah, your hair was a little bit long. That's a great photo. Why don't we talk about what your next relationship was after Edna, your next important relationship?

JH: Yeah, well that was the first one, yeah.

MS: Right. So who did you get together with after Edna? Do you remember?

JH: I can't remember.

F: Oh, Nook! What do you mean you can't remember?

JH: No, but I mean before Nook.

F: Well your next relationship, long-term I would say, not fly-by-night, was Nook and then Mae.

JH: Yeah.

MS: Who was Nook?

F: A very dear friend of ours.

JH: Yes, yes.

MS: Yeah? How long were you together with her? Was this in the '50s?

JH: I think it was about six years.

MS: Six years together? Did you two live together?

JH: Yeah, we bought a house, through the service.

MS: Is that right?

JH: Yeah.

MS: On the G.I. Bill?

JH: Yeah, G.I. Bill, yeah.

MS: Where was the house?

JH: Oh, Joan knows where that is. She was there all the time. 26th, no, not 26th.

MS: What neighborhood? Downtown?

JH: Southwest.

JH: Yeah.

MS: Who was Nook?

F: A very dear friend of ours.

JH: Yes, yes.

MS: Yeah? How long were you together with her? Was this in the '50s?

JH: I think it was about six years.

MS: Six years together? Did you two live together?

JH: Yeah, we bought a house, through the service.

MS: Is that right?

JH: Yeah.

MS: On the G.I. Bill?

JH: Yeah, G.I. Bill, yeah.

MS: Where was the house?

JH: Oh, Joan knows where that is. She was there all the time. 26th, no, not 26th.

MS: What neighborhood? Downtown?

JH: Southwest.

Cover of "Wicce" Magazine, 1974

Cover of Wicce, Summer 1974. Courtesy John J. Wilcox Jr. Archives at the William Way LGBT Community Center.

MS: And were you working after the service? You must have had a job.

JH: Oh yeah. I went right back to the same job.

MS: What was the job?

JH: I was at my job forty years.

MS: Forty years? Is that right?

JH: Yeah.

MS: Well tell me about the job then. Who did you work for?

JH: Leeds and Northrup.

MS: Doing what?

F: Panel work.

JH: Panel work, yeah.

MS: Assembly line?

JH: Well no, not assembly line.

MS: No.

JH: It was a good job.

F: Those big panels that you see in the movies. She was the first girl to break through to get into it.

MS: Really? You were?

JH: Yeah, they wouldn't let a lot of the girls in. Well not that they wouldn't let a lot of the girls in, but I pushed my way in.

MS: Really?

JH: Yeah.

MS: What were you doing before that?

JH: Well before that I was doing mostly soldering and all kinds of electrical work, things like that.

MS: I see.

JH: But this big job, I wanted it so bad. I finally got it.

MS: And what exactly were you making?

JH and F: Panels.

JH: Panels of steel, panels for all the wires and stuff, for whatever.

F: That the hospital used for everything. All different things. Yeah, they used them at the hospital.

JH: Yeah, they had them at the hospital.

MS: And why was this a job that they didn't let women in?

JH: They didn't think we had the brains.

MS: Yeah?

F: No, they didn't think that they had the strength.

JH: Oh, well I mean the strength, too.

F: The strength, too.

JH: Anyway, I had these meetings, two or three meetings. And they weren't gonna' let me in. So finally we had this one meeting and I said, "I'm getting so disgusted with this stuff. I can do it all." I said, "I can do it. It's easy." So he said, "Yeah? You try picking up those fifty pound…."

F: Boards.

JH: Not boards. They weren't boards.

F: Bricks. Lumber?

JH: No. No, they're all steel. It was all steel. So he said, "You try picking them up." He said, "You'll see how easy it is." So I said, "Well I can do it." I said this is just funning. I said, "I can do it." He said, "You can?" I said, "Sure I can do it." I said, "All I have to do is say, 'Hey Joe, give me a hand here.'"

F: 'Cause that's what they all do.

MS: Right.

JH: Sure they do. They can't go around going like this with fifty pounds of steel.

MS: Right, right. Very good. So was it a good job? Good place to work?

JH: Oh, it was a very good job.

MS: Yeah?

JH: Yeah. Paid so much.

MS: And did you know gay men and lesbians at the job?

JH: Oh yeah. Oh yeah. Plenty, all through the whole plant.

MS: But did everybody know who was gay and who wasn't. Or was it more a secret?

JH: Everybody that should know knew.

MS: I see.

JH: I mean they didn't go around saying, "This one's gay. Don't go bother with her."

F: The head of personnel was a gay one.

JH: Yes.

MS: Yeah?

F: All you had to do was say you were.

MS: Man or woman?

JH: Woman.

MS: A woman?

JH: Yeah.

MS: And so did gay people help one another out at the job in that kind of way?

JH: Yeah. Oh yeah.

MS: Did gay people help one another find jobs?

JH: Yeah. Yeah, sure.

MS: I mean would you tell people you met to go apply for a job there?

JH: Sure. Oh yeah.

MS: Do you remember any specific people you helped get jobs there?

JH: Yeah, one. I got her a job there. And I got a few other people jobs

MS: And gay men helping lesbians and vice verse, do you think?

JH: Yeah. Yeah, I guess they did. I guess different ones did.

MS: Yeah?

F: You didn't come in contact with too many gay men.

JH: Too many, no.

F: 'Cause she kept to herself more or less when she got into that section that she wanted to.

JH: Yeah.

F: She was happy with that.

MS: I see. And so, going back to your second relationship, I forgot the woman's name.

F: Nook.

MS: Nook.

JH: Nook, yeah.

MS: Right. You said you were together with her for six years, right?

JH: Six years. About six years.

MS: Where did you meet her?

JH: Now her I met over at Topper's.

MS: Yeah? You met her at Topper's?

JH: Yeah.

MS: You were single when you met her?

JH: Yeah.

MS: And it was after Edna?

JH: Yeah. Right. Right. We just hit it off. It was just a really nice relationship. We're old friends with her.

F: God help her. Wound up with Alzheimer's.

MS: Oh really?

F: She was our best friend.

JH: Yeah.

MS: When did you break up with her? Or did she break up with you?

JH: I don't even know.

F: It was a mutual agreement.

JH: Yeah, I think it was.

F: She met John. She met a gay boy.

JH: Yeah, right.

F: And they decided to try to make a go of it. He for his family, her for hers.

MS: Oh is that right?

F: They got married and they had a very nice relationship.

MS: Did that happen a lot in those days?

F: What?

MS: Gay men and lesbians getting together?

F: Yeah, I know quite a few. 

MS: Yeah?

JH: Yeah, you know them, you remember them. And then there was a pair of girls that latched on to a fellow so that they could just satisfy their mother or father.

MS: For cover. So that's how that relationship with you ended? She met this guy and they decided to get married?

F: Yeah, it was a mutual agreement.

JH: Mutual agreement.

MS: So when did you get together with Mae? And how did you meet her?

F: Right then. Right after Nook.

JH: Yeah, right after that. Yeah.

F: Well she lived across the street with Johnny.

JH: Yeah.

F: With her son.

MS: Mae had a son?

JH: Yeah.

MS: And she lived across the street from you? In what part of the city? Was this the Southwest?

F: What was the name of that street?

JH: I can't remember.

F: Look back on Joan's notes. You'll find it.

MS: O.K. I think she might have mentioned it. I have some addresses. Mifflin? Sansom? Chestnut?

JH: Well anyway, we met at Rusty's.

MS: You and Mae met at Rusty's?

JH: Yeah.

MS: And you already knew her?

JH: I knew her already. I knew her from high school. I knew her from William Penn.

MS: Oh really? You went to high school together?

JH: Yeah.

MS: But was she married? Is that how she had the son?

JH: Yeah. She was married.

F: And divorced.

JH: And divorced, yeah.

MS: How long had she been married? Do you remember? For a long time or just a few years?

JH: How old was Johnny?

F: Johnny was about 11 or 12 when he came to you and Nook's, wasn't he, when you got together?

JH: Yeah. Maybe 14.

F: Maybe 14, O.K.

MS: Was he O.K. about it?

JH: No.

MS: Was this the first time Mae was with a woman?

JH: He had a rough time. No. She was with, what the hell's her name? What's her name?

MS: She had a girlfriend before you?

JH: Yeah.

F: And I've forgotten her name.

MS: And tell me about Mae. A lot of people have told me stories about her because she started the first group.

JH: Let's see. She loved to get in all that stuff. She'd be sitting here and telling you everything, wouldn't she?

MS: People have said that she was very motherly toward younger people.

JH: She was, yeah, yeah, she was.

F: She had a motherly instinct.

JH: Yeah.

MS: But Johnny didn't like the fact that his mother was involved with other women?

F: No.

JH: No. He didn't like it at all.

F: He didn't like it.

JH: He found out through a radio program, remember?

MS: Really?

JH: He heard it and said, "I knew that was you, mom."

MS: Really?

JH: Yeah.

MS: So that must have been after the Mattachine started?

JH: Yeah. Yeah, it was.

MS: So you and Mae started living together?

JH: Yeah, with Johnny. He tortured me.

MS: Really? Really?

JH: He did.

F: Oh, if you heard the things that he did.

JH: From the first day I set in the house.

MS: But you didn't hide your relationship from him, right?

JH: Oh no. I mean I didn't flaunt it, but I didn't hide it.

F: It caused a rift between her and Mae. Johnny did. And it's a shame. It was really a shame because it could have been a nice relationship. But as it turned out it was fatal.

JH: Oh well.

MS: How long did you and Mae stay together?

JH: We were together eighteen years.

MS: Eighteen years? And in the end Johnny made the difference?

F: The very end. Well Mae was really sick before that.

JH: Yeah. Johnny went in the service, so that took care of him for a little while.

MS: I see.

F: And he went to Hawaii.

JH: Hawaii, yeah.

F: So that put it out of her hair, but see what happened was that it's still her son.

JH: He tortured me. He tortured me.

MS: What would he do?

F: Joey was nothing. But as far as her son, she would beg, borrow, or steal for him, right?

JH: Right.

F: Which she did behind her back.

JH: Yeah. We had monies together.

MS: And then Mae would take it?

JH: Yeah.

F: She took it and paid off cars for him and this sort of thing.

JH: She would take it and give it to him.

MS: I see. I see.

JH: But then she told me she didn't. That's what made it worse.

MS: I see.

F: Yeah, she lied about it.

Radnor Raid Article

Article on the Radnor Raid, 25 August 1960. From the Suburban and Wayne Times, 25 August 1960, p 1.

MS: I want to pause for a second 'cause some of that stuff happened later. How did Mae get it in her head to get involved with the Mattachine people? Do you remember how that came about?

JH: She was interested in all of it.

MS: Yeah?

JH: She was.

MS: How did she know about it? Do you know? Was she getting the magazines? Or was she going to meetings?

JH: She was going to meetings. She went to a couple of the meetings.

F: Yeah.

JH: And then we both started to go together. I didn't want to go at first. And then she said, "Come on."

MS: Meetings in Philadelphia?

JH: Yeah. Where would that be?

MS: Tell me about the night of the Radnor raid. That's something other people have told me about.

JH: Oh the night of the raid?

MS: Yeah. Was that one of the first meetings? Or was that the first meeting?

JH: No.

MS: No? They had been going on for awhile before that?

JH: Yeah, oh yeah. They had been going on before that. Well that was because they got, what was that?

MS: There was something about movies?

JH: Yeah. They got some movies in somehow. They got something about a beach. Muscle Beach?

MS: Right, yeah. What kind of movie was that? Do you remember?

JH: I wasn't too interested.

MS: Like a male muscle movie?

F: Yeah, it was the male groups that had their own.

JH: Yeah. And they didn't have a thing about the lesbians.

F: They had their own phenoms, whatever you want to call it.

JH: Yeah.

MS: And were there a lot of women there?

JH: Oh yeah.

MS: As many as the men?

JH: No, no. There were more men.

MS: 'Cause I know that eighty-four people were arrested that night. Were you among the group that was taken?

JH: Oh yeah, yeah. We were all taken.

MS: Who were some of the other women who were there? You were there with Mae?

JH: Yeah.

MS: And I guess Joan told me she was there.

JH: And Joan was there. I don't think Jean came.

MS: I don't think so.

F: She was smart; she's smart.

JH: Yeah, she's smart.

MS: I think Joan was there with Bobby?

JH: Oh Bobby, yeah, that's right, that's right. What's her last name, Bobby?

MS: I don't know. And this was at this house in Radnor, a place called the Stables? You don't remember that?

JH: I don't know who it was that owned the place. But I know we all traipsed upstairs, sat in the seats, and watched the movie.

F: Yeah.

MS: Was that the first time you'd been to jail?

JH: Oh no.

MS: You'd been caught up in raids before?

JH: Yeah, a few times.

MS: But you got out that night, right?

JH: I got out of them all.

MS: You got out of them all?

JH: Thank god for that, right? I remember that first raid. Oh no, you don't even know about that.

F: About the wedding?

JH: Yeah.

F: Your grandfather came and he said, "There's nothing wrong with her. She's always with girls all the time."

JH: Yeah, right, right, right. "She always goes with girls all the time. She's good."

F: "There's nothing wrong with her." Her grandfather had to come and bail her out.

MS: And he said that to the police?

F: Yeah.

MS: But that was just the wrong thing to say, right?

JH: Yup, sure.

F: But he got her out.

JH: Yeah.

F: Got her out.

MS: That was from a raid on a bar?

JH: No.

F: No.

JH: No. That was at a house that we all had.

F: They had a wedding. And she was the groom.

JH: Yeah, but first we had the house.

F: Yeah.

JH: On Spruce Street.

JH: And we'd use it for kick off your shoes and just lay around. And so many people had a key for it. So if you were in when somebody else came out, then you'd have to leave. But anyway, that's what happened.

MS: You had a wedding? Someone wrote a story about this, I think. And you were the groom?

JH: I was the groom.

MS: And who was the bride?

JH: Hoodie.

MS: Oh really?

JH: Yeah.

MS: And someone performed the ceremony?

JH: Yeah.

MS: Was it a gay man or a lesbian? Do you remember?

JH: No it was supposed to be not an authentic priest, but one that was practicing.

MS: So was it a guy who did the wedding?

JH: Yeah.

MS: And there was a raid?

JH: Yeah.

MS: Really?

JH: Yeah.

MS: And so that's when your grandfather...?

F: They pulled them all in.

JH: That's right. They pulled them all in, yeah.

MS: And that's when your grandfather had to....

JH: And I pushed Hoodie out the door.

MS: Is that right?

JH: Yeah. Yeah.

MS: You pushed her out what door?

JH: Out the door on the side.

MS: Of the apartment? Or the paddywagon?

JH: No, out the door of the apartment.

MS: Really?

JH: I said, "I don't want her getting mixed up in that 'cause then her mother'll holler at me and that would be it."

MS: I see. So what did you tell your grandfather?

JH: Oh no, that was Nook's grandfather. You were telling about Nook.

F: Yeah, Nook. Yeah.

MS: So back to Mae, you said that there had been a lot of meetings before the Radnor raid? Mattachine meetings?

JH: Oh yeah. In fact they had taken a couple of the boys in.

MS: What do you mean?

F: They kept them, I remember.

JH: Yeah. Well they had been in something before.

F: They had been involved.

JH: Well I wasn't too sure about what was happening with that.

F: I've heard a lot about that.

JH: Did you?

F: Yeah.

JH: Oh I didn't know that.

MS: What was happening? I don't understand.

F: This one fellow that had this very elegant place in Radnor, he had been raided twice before. And they were held for sexual offenses.

MS: Right.

F: And the same people showed up at some more different things that he had.

MS: So you were telling me about Mae and the Mattachine. So actually no one has told me that there were people meeting in Mattachine before the Radnor raid.

JH: Oh yeah?

MS: Yeah, so that's interesting to me.

JH: Well they would have them to their houses, so he had everybody to his house.

F: Right.

MS: I see.

F: They were just going to private homes.

MS: Right, sure.

JH: Yeah.

F: The ones that had big homes.

JH: And you'd sit around and talk. Just like they did in New York and wherever.

MS: Right. And somehow, after the Radnor raid, Mae ended up being the president of the group when it formed officially.

JH: Yeah, right.

MS: How did that happen? Why was she elected?

JH: Oh because she was so eager.

MS: Yeah?

JH: Eager to know everything and learn everything. Wanting to do this, wanting to do that.

MS: I guess what surprised me since it was mostly men who were at the Radnor raid is that they would choose a woman to be the president.

F: Seems logical.

JH: I don't know, yeah. It does seem logical.

F: Yeah. 'Cause why not have a woman stuck in there and not a man all the time?

MS: For balance?

JH: Yeah.

MS: So I have down who was elected the first officers in my notes. The first president was Mae. And the other officers were Harold Stern, Joan Fraser, and Ralph White.

JH: Harold Stern.

MS: You remember Harold Stern and Ralph White?

JH: No, not Ralph.

MS: But Harold Stern?

JH: Yeah.

MS: Who was he? Do you remember anything about him?

JH: No.

MS: So I know it was about two years that Mae was the head of Mattachine, something like that.

JH: Yeah.

MS: You remember what she did, what you both did, when you were with the group?

JH: Well I know she had these interviews.

F: She did a lot of office work for them.

JH: Yeah, she did a lot of office work, yeah.

F: Like printing up of materials.

MS: The newsletter?

JH: 'Cause she had an office, yeah.

MS: Right.

JH: What do you call what she had?

F: Photocopier.

JH: No, no.

MS: 'Cause she ran a secretarial service.

JH: Secretarial school. I mean service.

F: Secretarial services.

MS: The office was downtown, right? Did she have a lot of gay people working for her?

JH: Yeah, she always had.

MS: Mostly gay people?

JH: I would say mostly because that's where she would…

MS: Find people? Really? So it was mostly a gay business.

JH: Yeah.

MS: Yeah? And mostly women or men?

F: Mixed, mixed.

JH: Mostly women though.

F: Mixed, because she did a lot of work for people that are big wigs in the conservatories.

JH: Yeah.

MS: And so she did this newsletter and you had meetings in your homes, is that right?

JH: Yeah.

MS: I have some of the addresses written down where the meetings were held.

JH: Yeah, we had them. We had them.

MS: 'Cause I looked at all the newsletters and I wrote down where the meetings were held. 29 South 40th Street is where some meetings were held.

JH: Yeah, that was their office, I think.

MS: There was an office?

JH: Yeah. They had their own place there.

MS: And then Fidelity Philadelphia Trust Building?

JH: That's her place.

MS: That was her office, right?

JH: Yeah.

MS: And then 1725 Mifflin? It seemed like a lot of the meetings were held there.

JH: I don't remember that.

MS: O.K. Then there was 4426 Sansom? And then there was 4404 Chestnut. So places up in West Philly, I guess.

JH: I guess, yeah.

MS: But 29 South 40th, you think that was an office?

JH: Yeah.

MS: And you said Mae appeared on some radio programs?

JH: Yeah, she was on radio programs.

MS: Many times or just once?

JH: No, a few times. Not too many, but a few times.

MS: What kind of shows would have someone talking about the Mattachine Society in Philadelphia at that time?

JH: Well let's see. Now I can't remember.

MS: Talk shows?

JH: Yeah. That's what it would be.

MS: And would Mae go by herself to do this or would there be others?

JH: Oh no. Her and Jack.

MS: Jack Ervin?

JH: Ervin, yeah.

F: Yeah.

JH: Yeah, he would go with her and then it was a Johnny.

MS: Johnny was a guy?

JH: Yeah.

MS: Was the group mostly, as it started meeting, mostly men? Were there equal numbers of women and men? Do you remember?

JH: I can't remember.

MS: Was there some kind of dinner club that she ran that some people have told me about? Regular dinners that she made?

JH: Oh no, no. They're talking about at our house.

MS: O.K.

JH: For dinner. You'd invite this one, that one. The first thing you know somebody'd come in from California. "Come on over and join us."

MS: But that was separate, I guess, from Mattachine?

JH: Oh yeah. But she was always having dinners.

The Furtive Fraternity

Gaeton J. Fonzi, "The Furtive Fraternity." Greater Philadelphia Magazine, December 1962, p. 20.

MS: But that was separate, I guess, from Mattachine?

JH: Oh yeah. But she was always having dinners.

MS: Yeah? I know that there was this article done in the Philadelphia Magazine.

JH: Yes, I remember that.

MS: Called "The Furtive Fraternity."

JH: I don't remember it word for word.

MS: Right. It was in December of '62. And it said that four women and three men came to Greater Philadelphia Magazine at 1420 Walnut Street. All were members of the Janus Society.

JH: Jack was there, too, yeah.

MS: It said two of the women, Barbara and Marge, were secretaries.

JH: Oh, well that's the other two.

MS: Joan was a schoolteacher and Jane was an assembly-line worker in an electronics plant. So I assume Jane was you?

JH: I guess maybe they did say Jane. I don't know.

MS: This would have been false names.

JH: Yeah, yeah.

MS: Joan the schoolteacher would have been Joan Fraser. And Barbara and Marge, I always figured, were Barbara Gittings and Mae.

JH: And the other one. What's her name? You said it?

MS: Not Kay.

JH: No, Marge.

MS: Marge McCann?

JH: McCann, yeah.

MS: O.K. Well see this is where that doesn't figure. I'll tell you why I thought it wasn't her. 'Cause it says Marge and Jane were middle-aged.

JH: No. No, Marge was young.

F: No.

MS: But the article said Marge and Jane were middle-aged. So I'm thinking that maybe Mae used the name Marge for the article. And then it said that Barbara and Joan were both in their early twenties. And it said the men included Bill, a store clerk, Mel, a computer programmer, and Jack, an insurance salesman.

JH: Yeah.

MS: So Jack was Jack Ervin.

JH: Jack Ervin.

MS: And Mel, I think, was maybe who I mentioned before. I don't want to say his name because he doesn't want me using his real name.

JH: O.K.

MS: But you remember being part of it, right? You were part of the group that was interviewed?

JH: Yeah, we were there.

MS: And Mae was also?

JH: In fact, there weren't that many people.

MS: It said seven.

JH: There wasn't.

MS: There wasn't seven?

JH: Only four of us.

MS: Four total?

JH: Mhmmm. Jack, Mae, myself, and who else? Who else would we have taken?

MS: This said there were four women and three men.

JH: No.

MS: That's what the article said. So do you remember what happened when the magazine article came out? Someone said that someone punched someone out in a bar because they were so upset because the article listed all the bars' addresses.

JH: Oh yeah?

MS: Do you remember anything like that? No?

JH: No, I don't remember anything like that. No.

MS: O.K. How did the group change its name to the Janus Society?

JH: Did they change the name?

MS: Yeah.

F: To what?

MS: From Mattachine to Janus.

JH: From Mattachine to Janus.

F: Yeah, I remember when it changed, but I don't remember.

MS: Why do you think it changed?

JH: Because the figure of Janus had two heads.

MS: I think someone told me that you came up with the name.

JH: Oh no. I came up with, what was it?

MS: ECHO?

JH: Help me out. Oh yeah, ECHO.

MS: You told me that on the phone, I think.

JH: East Coast Homophile Organizations.

F: Yeah.

MS: I'm trying to think who told me that you came up with Janus. It said someone had looked it up in a book of mythology.

JH: Mythology, yeah.

MS: Yeah. And I'm pretty sure that they ran a ten dollar contest to choose the new name.

JH: I don't remember that.

F: They ran a contest and then they took votes.

JH: Do you think so?

F: Yeah and then they took votes on that.

JH: I know it was something about a two-faced figure.

MS: Right. Janus was a figure with two heads.

F: Janus, right.

MS: Right. But you came up with the name ECHO? How did ECHO come about?

JH: Oh, was that when I was out in Frisco?

F: When you came back?

JH: Or when we came back.

MS: You and Mae went to San Francisco?

JH: Yeah.

MS: And did you meet with...?

JH: We met with a few...

MS: People there?

JH: Yeah.

MS: Like Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon?

JH: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.

MS: From the DOB?

JH: Yeah.

MS: And also the Mattachine?

JH: Right.

MS: Did you go out there to meet them specifically?

JH: Yeah. We flew over there to meet them.

MS: How come? How come you wanted to meet them? Because they were in charge of the group nationally?

JH: Yeah. I mean I didn't really care, but Mae did. Mae was the one.

MS: Do you know what year you went to California?

F: That's when Johnny was in Hawaii, wasn't it?

JH: Oh yeah, but I don't know how long before.

MS: That's O.K. So you came back and you thought there should be this regional group with New York and Washington and Philadelphia?

JH: Yeah.

MS: And you went to one of the meetings and suggested ECHO?

JH: Yeah.

MS: Is that right?

JH: Yeah.

MS: How did you come up with the word homophile? Do you remember? I think other people were beginning to use it. Maybe you heard it.

JH: I think so too. Yeah, I think so.

MS: Did you go to the ECHO conference that was held at the Drake Hotel? They had the first conference at the Drake.

JH: I don't know.

MS: You don't remember? What about Clark Polak? Do you remember Clark?

JH: Yeah. I remember him.

MS: Tell me about him.

JH: Well he was a nice guy.

MS: Yeah? Well now I'm sure that you say nice things about everybody. 'Cause no one says nice things about him.

JH: Yeah.

MS: He ran for election to replace Mae as president of the Janus Society.

JH: Yeah.

MS: And he ran against Marge McCann.

JH: Yeah.

MS: And Clark won.

JH: Yeah, you know more than I do.

MS: But he turned out to be very controversial. But you really thought he was a nice guy?

JH: Yeah, I thought he was a nice guy.

MS: Can you tell me what kind of guy he was?

JH: Well he seemed like he'd done everything that anybody asked him. With whatever kind of information he had he would help out.

MS: Did the group change after he took it over? Did you and Mae stay involved or did you kind of drop out? It seemed like a lot of the women left the organization.

JH: I think so. Yeah, I think they did.

MS: You remember why you stopped going or why Mae stopped going?

F: They didn't want to be connected with the gay boys anymore. They were having a lot of problems.

MS: What kind of problems?

F: There were a lot of arguments between the men and the women.

MS: Yeah? You remember Drum magazine?

JH: Yeah.

MS: Clark's magazine?

JH: Yeah.

MS: And it seemed like there were some fights over Drum. Some of the women didn't like it.

JH: Yeah, right, right.

MS: But do you remember what it was all about?

JH: What was his campaign? Everybody marches to a different drummer or something like that.

MS: Right, right, from Thoreau, yeah. But you don't remember much of the controversy about him or about Drum magazine?

JH: No, no. Most of the time when I saw Clark Polak, I'd talk with him, but I didn't go in with the group.

MS: I see. I see. And so as far as you know, Mae just decided to leave the group at some point during those few years. Did she stay involved with other things?

F: Her work got too heavy a load. Her own personal work.

MS: The secretarial business?

JH: Yeah.

F: Yeah.

Joey Hardman and Mae Polakoff, 1961

Joey Hardman (L) and Mae Polakoff, 1961. Photo courtesy Joan Fleischmann.

MS: What can you tell me about Mae's background? 'Cause I'd like to write a little bit about her background because she was the first president of the group.

JH: Well let's see.

MS: She was from a Jewish family? Is that right?

JH: Yes, she was Jewish.

MS: From Philadelphia?

JH: Philadelphia, from what's the name of the place over there? 29th and Fairfield or whatever it is?

F: Strawberry Mansion.

JH: Yeah, Strawberry Mansion.

MS: The Strawberry Mansion neighborhood? And was she from a middle-class family or more working class? Do you remember that?

F: I would say normal. Not middle, not high, not low.

JH: Regular family, yeah. Not poor, not rich.

MS: Average.

F: They just did enough to get along. They didn't have to go to anyone for anything.

MS: What did Mae's father do? What was his job? Do you remember?

JH: No. I didn't know him that well.

MS: You said you knew Mae from William Penn High School.

JH: Yeah, but I didn't go home with her. I didn't meet her family at home.

MS: Right. Did she start the secretarial business right after high school? Did she go to college?

JH: I think she went to business school. I think.

MS: Yeah?

JH: Some kind of business school.

F: Yeah. She took up a correspondence course.

JH: But she didn't go to college.

F: No, she got started by a correspondence course. And she was always a commercial student in school.

MS: Was it a successful business?

JH: Yeah.

MS: Yeah? She made a good income from it?

JH: Yes.

MS: Yeah?

JH: Yeah, she did.

MS: And you said she had been married. How did that marriage end? Do you remember?

JH: In fiasco.

MS: Why? Because she was interested in women? Or was it something else?

JH: No, not because of that. How was it Fran? Do you know? Can you help me dear? 'Cause I'm sure Mae told you many a time.

F: I remember. She told me a lot of things.

JH: I'm funny. I don't like to listen or hear people that have disagreements.

MS: Right. You're not a gossip.

JH: Yeah, right, right.

F: I would listen and I wouldn't voice any opinion.

MS: Right. But they had a bad breakup, you think? She and her husband?

JH: Oh, I imagine so.

MS: Yeah?

F: The family was all for her leaving him because he didn't do right by her and the kid.

JH: Yeah.

F: So she had to make her own life.

JH: In fact, like this is an instance. She was having Johnny and he was running around with some other woman.

MS: Really?

F: He was a run-around. And his family knew it.

JH: Yeah.

F: His family knew. They were all on Mae's side. They knew him for what he was.

MS: I see. I see. And did he try to fight Mae for custody of Johnny?

JH: No.

F: No.

JH: Never even thought of it.

F: But Johnny went over to his side from the very beginning anyway.

MS: Yeah?

JH: Oh sure.

F: 'Cause he knew where the dollar was. The buck starts here. And the buck ends here. And that's where it ended with Mae.

MS: I see.

F: He stole everything from Joey. He stole everything. She was a dummy.

MS: Was this when Mae died?

JH: Yeah.

F: He stole everything from her.

JH: Oh yeah.

F: Including every stick of furniture, everything they had in the house. He stole it from her.

MS: When she died?

F: When she died, yeah.

JH: Yeah.

MS: He came in the house?

F: When did she die? You're asking me a question and I'm going on.

MS: I was asking if he cleared out the house when Mae died. Is that right? That's when he did that?

JH: Oh yeah. That's when it was, yeah.

F: He sold everything from under her nose. And the lawyer told her she should have had a truck back up to the house.

JH: And take everything out.

F: And pulled everything out of there and get him the hell out.

JH: I can't do that. I can't do that.

F: I know. She can't do it.

MS: Did he take money as well?

JH: Oh everything.

F: Everything.

JH: Yeah.

F: The house, they didn't have much equity. It was an apartment.

JH: Johnny decided he was gonna' split it down the middle, remember, with me?

F: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

JH: And I said I don't even want to be bothered. I don't want to be bothered. "Oh you don't?" And then I looked at Fran. She said, "Oh yes you do."

F: I looked at her and I said, "What do you mean?" It was an apartment first. And then they decided they were gonna' buy it.

JH: No we bought the house, the bigger house.

F: But they didn't have much equity in it.

MS: Right. Right.

F: They just had maybe twenty-five hundred dollars, if it was that, equity that they could get out.

JH: Yeah, but we both had the house.

F: Oh I know that.

JH: Not this last one, not the last one that you had to pay for.

F: Oh, well you got bilched out of that because that all went to Johnny. Everything. See the house that she bought on G.I. with Nook? Along comes Mae. I shouldn't talk in this way about her. It's not nice.

JH: No, no she knows. She knows.

F: I mean let her rest in peace.

JH: She's resting in peace.

F: Along comes Mae with her son. And she took over the house that Joey bought with Nook. And Nook didn't get a penny out of it. Not one cent.

JH: I wasn't saying that house. I was talking about the other house that Mae and I both bought when he was in the service.

F: Yeah, well that was after Warminster. Warminster you're talking about, right?

JH: Warminster.

F: They bought a home in Warminster.

MS: When did Mae die? What year? Was it the '60s or '70s?

JH: When was it?

F: She died in the '70s.

MS: Yeah? In the '70s?

F: Yeah.

JH: I don't remember.

F: Late, late '70s. I don't even know the date. Maybe closer to '80? I don't even know.

MS: Tell me about gay life in the '60s. Did things change much in the '60s for you? Did you continue going to the bars when you were going with Mae.

JH: Oh yeah.

MS: Yeah? You would still go?

JH: We both did.

MS: What was your favorite one?

JH: Favorite one? I would say Rusty's.

F: We'd go to Atlantic City a lot.

JH: Yeah.

MS: What kind of bar was Rusty's?

JH: It was wonderful.

MS: Yeah?

JH: I would go there and have a good time and you couldn't get in too much trouble.

F: No, because they kept you pretty straight there.

JH: Yeah, strict.

MS: And you used to go to the Ell Club, too? In Bridgeport? The Lark Bar?

JH: We went there a few times, but not like a permanent thing.

MS: Not regularly?

JH: Yeah.

MS: What about the Surf Bar? What was the Surf Bar like?

F: That was rough. That was a rough place.

MS: Yeah?

JH: Oh, you had a good time there.

F: You had a good time. Oh sure you had a good time. But you would have a good time. I didn't have a good time.

MS: Did gay men and lesbians get along together well in the bars? Or was there hostility?

JH: No, no, no hostility. I don't think there was any hostility then.

F: Never. Never. Never.

MS: They got along well together?

JH: Yeah.

F: I've never come in contact with any hostility with gay men.

JH: I never saw two gay guys fighting. I never saw two gay fellas fighting.

JH: I mean you'd never go anywhere and see this. You'd see the girls fighting, but you wouldn't see the men.

F: Oh yeah.

MS: Really?

JH: It's true.

MS: Did you ever get in any fights yourself?

JH: Oh yeah.

MS: Yeah? Who would you be fighting?

JH: Whoever annoyed me.

F: Someone that went for whoever she was with.

MS: Straight guys or other lesbians.

JH: Oh no; straight guys.

MS: Not other gay girls?

JH: No. And not other gay guys. No.

MS: But would you be fighting with other women, too?

JH: No. No, I wouldn't fight with them either.

F: She's not a fighter. She's a lover. She's very, very mild. Meek and mild.

MS: Well maybe we should begin to wind this up. I'm curious if you could just give some general thoughts about what it was like to be gay in the '40s, '50s, and '60s. And what you think back on fondly. And what you think was bad then.

JH: Yeah, when I can sit and think about it.

MS: They were good times?

JH: Oh yeah. They were good times. Very good. Never found anything wrong with my life. Maybe other people did, but I didn't.

MS: What were the best parts? It sounds like you were talking about friends before?

JH: I had a lot of true friends, a lot of good friends.

MS: What were the worst parts? What was the worst part about being gay in those days?

F: I don't think there's any bad part about being gay.

JH: There wasn't any worst part.

MS: It didn't matter that other people didn't accept it in those days?

JH: Don't get mad, get even. I'm only kidding, I'm only kidding.

MS: When the police were raiding the bars, that wasn't a bad time?

JH: Oh no, no. We expected it. Half the time you expected it.

JH: I'll tell you one bad time. Can I tell him?

F: Yes.

JH: Before I forget. I'll tell you one bad time that we had. I think it was the biggest thing that ever happened with the gay kids. This Sadie McCrady, that was her name.

F: Oh! Yeah. Sadie McCrady.

JH: She had gotten married after she was gay. Now I'm not sure, but she was down in the Bridge Tavern a couple of times.

F: Oh yeah.

JH: And we were all there dancing and everything. And we suddenly heard a big shot. Went outside and Sadie's holding her stomach. I said, "What's the matter with you?" She said, "He shot me." "What the hell do you mean, he shot you?" You know we were so surprised.

MS: Her husband had shot her?

F: She was shot at the bar.

JH: Yeah, her ex-husband, yeah, came in and shot her.

MS: Really?

F: Yeah.

MS: You remember approximately what year or what decade?

JH: '40s, I guess.

F: In the '40s. Not the '50s.

JH: Not the '50s.

F: '40s. Early '40s.

JH: But that was the biggest thing that had ever happened.

F: Oh I think that was so shocking.

MS: Wow.

JH: Yeah.

MS: So there's nothing ever like that another time?

JH: No.

F: Never.

MS: You used to go to Dewey's restaurant?

F: Yeah!

JH: Oh yeah, yeah.

MS: Was that a big gay hangout?

JH: Yeah.

MS: Both of them? I know there was one on 17th Street and one on 13th Street. Both?

JH: Yeah, we went to the one on 17th.

F: Farrel Yesner. Yeah, I used to go with the owner of Dewey's.

JH: Oh yeah?

F: Farrel Yesner.

MS: Is that a man or a woman?

F: Man.

JH: What's his name?

F: We were kids. Farrel Yesner.

JH: Oh Farrel.

MS: Were there other gay restaurants or restaurants that a lot of gay people would go to?

JH: Yeah.

MS: Can you think of some of the names?

JH: Well of course we'd all meet like at a show or this place or that place.

F: And mostly, what's that little street, where the Hat, you know she used to have the concession.

MS: Drury Lane or Camac Street?

F: Yeah.

JH: Yeah, Camac Street.

F: Camac Street. What's the name of that bar? After the show we'd all go there.

MS: Barone's Variety Room?

JH: Variety Club? No.

MS: There was the Drury Lane. There was the Forrest.

JH: Forrest.

F: Forrest.

JH: We had a lot of good times there.

F: Yeah. This one girl had the concession. And she was gay. And we used to call her the Hat.

JH: Yeah, the Hat.

F: She always wore a hat. But it was a nice place.

JH: Are we holding you up?

MS: No, no, no. Any final thoughts before I turn this off? Anything that you think should be remembered about gay life in Philadelphia?

JH: No, but I will remember some more things.

F: If she remembers anything that's of any importance, I'll tell her to write it down.

JH: Yeah, write it down.

F: And then we can jot it off to you.

MS: Thanks very much.

JH: Oh you're welcome.